The readers have spoken and it is time to announce the results of the hypothetical “Mount Rushmore of Nephrology”: the four Nephrology Pioneers whose contributions have mattered most, and deserve to have their imagery preserved forever on a big slab of rock. The four highest vote-getters over the week were:
1. Willem Kolff (inventor of dialysis)
2. Belding Scribner (access pioneer, founder of 1st outpatient HD unit)
3. Homer Smith (pioneer of renal physiology)
4. Joseph Murray (Nobel-winning surgeon who performed 1st kidney transplant)
A few comments on these choices. First, the top two leading vote-getters were both dialysis-related–which is indicative of the dominant role that dialysis has played in the evolution of nephrology, a field which was early on founded more on issues such as electrolyte abnormalities and medical diagnosis using the urine sediment rather than renal replacement therapy. Second, I debated as to whether or not to put Joseph Murray on the list–he is, after all, a surgeon rather than a true nephrologist, and to some degree I was hoping that John Merrill would have been the representative for the field of transplant nephrology instead. Then again, Homer Smith (“Father of Renal Physiology”) also may not be considered by some to be a “true nephrologist” since he was not an M.D.–he was really a basic scientist/physiologist. Who knows, perhaps in another 50 years, the list might look different.